Bed-Bug Insecticides Are Causing Sickness, CDC Warns


bedbugsBed bug infestations are bad enough, but a new report finds that more than 100 Americans have become sickened from exposure to the insecticides used to eliminate the pests.

The cases happened across seven states, researchers said, and bed bug insecticide exposure may have even contributed to one death.

“The majority of cases involved misuse,” said report co-author Dr. Geoffrey Calvert, a medical officer at the U.S. National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health.

Although the issue is not yet a major public health problem, he did offer one key recommendation for folks battling bed bugs.

“If you can’t control bed bugs with non-chemical means, such as washing and vacuuming, that means it’s probably going to be difficult to eradicate them, and we would recommend that people enlist the services of a pest control operator,” Calvert said.

The findings are published in the Sept. 23 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Bed bugs have made a notable comeback over the past few years across the United States and beyond. In San Francisco, for example, reports of bed bug infestations doubled between 2004 and 2006, one study found.

In the new study, the researchers looked at data on illnesses linked to bed bug eradication efforts reported via a federally funded pesticide illness surveillance program between 2003 and 2010. They found 111 such cases across seven states.

Most of the cases, 93 percent, were among people who tried to solve a bed bug problem at home. Most of the illnesses involved headache and dizziness, pain while breathing, difficulty breathing and nausea and vomiting, according to the report. Many of those who fell ill were workers — such as EMS technicians and carpet cleaners — who visited homes but had not been told that insecticides had recently been used.

Most of the illnesses did not require medical treatment and resolved in about a day, Calvert stressed. But about 18 percent of cases were more severe and required medical attention, he added.

One associated death was reported: In 2010, a woman in North Carolina who had a history of heart attacks, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and depression died after her husband used too much pesticide to try to kill bed bugs. The pesticide turned out to be ineffective against bed bugs and was used inappropriately over several days — the woman even sprayed the pesticide, plus a flea insecticide, on her hair, arms and chest before going to bed, the report’s authors said.

In another case in Ohio in 2010, an uncertified exterminator used malathion up to five times a day over three days in an apartment to treat a bed bug infestation. The product used was not registered for indoor use, and so much was dispensed that beds and floor coverings were saturated, according to the report. The result: Children living in the apartment required medical help and were unable to live there again. The exterminator pleaded guilty to criminal charges, was fined and put on probation.

Calvert noted that the cases documented in his team’s report are most likely only a fraction of actual illnesses, since most people affected probably never reported their symptoms and got better on their own.

If consumers attempt to control the pests on their own, Calvert advised they first make sure that the pesticide they use is made specifically for controlling bed bugs. Second, they should read the label before using the pesticide and follow the directions carefully. In addition, people living in or visiting the treated space should be notified that a pesticide has been used before they enter, he said.

In some cases, professional help may be necessary.

Overall, the findings “draw attention to the necessity of effective bed bug control by a licensed, qualified pest professional,” said Missy Henriksen, a spokeswoman for the National Pest Management Association.

Because bed bugs are one of the most difficult pests to control, eradicating them can require a partnership between a consumer and a qualified and licensed pest professional who will effectively inspect and treat an infestation, she said.

“Treatment may incorporate the use of professional-grade products as well as non-chemical measures such as heating or cooling rooms, vacuuming, laundering and disposal of items,” Henriksen said.

{Health Day News/ Newscenter}


  1. wow this is also very crazy..but i also know that if you dont feel it you will suddenly see white spots growing all over your bodyy

  2. Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Nitzavim-Vaiyeilech
    Time: 6:50 PM Pacific Standard Time

    We must have great appreciation to “Health Daily News” for making this excellent informative article and to Matzav for re-printing it here.

    The article relates about one woman who, Lo Alaynu, very tragically died: ” . . . the woman even sprayed the pesticide, plus a flea insecticide, on her hair, arms and chest before going to bed, the report’s authors said.”

    Now, ABSOLUTE ZERO blame can be put on the woman for what she did. On the contrary, she thought that she was doing something that was very good! She thought that she was putting on herself (what she thought was) some kind of a special pleasant “soap” that would keep off the harmful bugs.

    For far, far, far, too long, modern society has been given these insecticides and other pesticides as if they were — yes, pleasant special soaps!

    [Boruch HaShem, the Bnei Torah who are able to keep away from television do not see this, but] those people who do look at television, very unfortunately, see countless horrifically nauseating advertisements. Among these are numerous advertisements for “Raid,” “Round-Up,” and other bug sprays and weed killers. The short mini-skits of these commercials show scenes of very nice typical American homes with either the man or the housewife spraying the “Raid” or “Round-Up” around as if they were bottles of “Windex” glass cleaner!

  3. Erev Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Nitzavim-Vaiyeilech
    Time: 6:52 PM Pacific Standard Time

    (continuation of my previous comment)

    All of this though, IS ONE GIGANTIC INSIDIOUS LIE!!!!!

    By their very definition, pesticides are substances which are designed to DESTROY and to KILL unwanted forms of life. As such, they are of the very worst deadly poisons ever created in the world! Many of them are merely specialized formations of the fiendish gases that were used to annihilate much of Klall Yisroel in the Holocaust.

    The retort that they only kill bugs but do not harm humans is fully deceptive. Yes, the “small” amount of poison that comes out in a spray will be only enough to kill a small creature, like an insect, but it will not be enough to kill a big creature, like a human being. However, even though it will not be enough to actually KILL the human being, it still will be enough to cause subtle harm to the human being.

    For information on how pesticides DO actually harm people, see:,, and